A Moment’s Grace

I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. . . For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free. ~Wendell Berry, American poet and visionary

Bulbs ready to plantNovember has been a turbulent month. October was a slow graceful dance into the dying year, still filled with bloom and color, but November’s winds and weather grabbed and shook the world into the gateway of winter. For the first time in many years, I ordered bulbs to plant in the garden. Inspired by the renewal of the garden paths (see The Big Picture), I imagined a glorious spring filled with bulbs blooming in impossible beauty. What I forgot was how low one must bend to plant them in the earth!

After weeks of digging, only a last few crocus and scilla remain on my dining room table, awaiting placement along the path to the birdbath. After waves of sleet, rain, ferocious winds, and snow, this weekend’s mild temperatures may soften the frozen soil and provide a moment’s grace to complete the work of this weary but hopeful gardener. Winter has arrived, snow lies all around and the only growth in nature is taking place unseen, underground. The growing season is on pause and I am content to rest from my garden labors and dream about the spring to come. A moment’s grace indeed. Click on any photo to start the slideshow (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved).

We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? ~Wendell Berry

Wendell Berry, poet, book author, gardener, and environmental visionary, was interviewed by Bill Moyers last year. See the amazing video here at Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity and listen to him read “The Peace of Wild Things” (20:36).

Wake to Sleep

 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.

 ~ from “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke

The Woodland GardenThe end of autumn is a season that stretches the mind in many directions. There is glory above in the treetop colors and in the remnants of summer beauty at the feet. Lingering green mixes with gold and red and brown as summer gives way to autumn. Even as the garden moves through entropy as it prepares to lapse into winter somnolence, the roots of every plant grow and deepen, a hidden font of life beneath the earth. Even as nature moves into winter’s sleep, its underground life, its dreaming, stretches downward as a balance of new growth. Waking and sleeping become one, as we humans balance on the threshold of old and new, the magic of seasonal change. Nothing expresses this multiverse of experience like Theodore Roethke’s evocative poem “The Waking” as set to music and sung so eloquently by Kurt Elling (scroll down to start the video of a live performance). Enjoy the images of October in my garden as you listen to this song of waking and sleeping. (All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

God bless the Ground!   I shall walk softly there,
And learn by going where I have to go.

For more beautiful nature-based poetry and art, visit poet Simon Hilly’s blog.
For exquisite autumn (and any season!) images, visit Kerry’s Lightscapes Nature Photography blog.

Colors, Endless Colors

Autumn in leaves of gold,
springtime a thousand shades of green unfold to
summer with its joyous Joseph’s Coat of colors,
endless colors, endless colors.
~from the song “Winter” by Lynn Emberg Purse ©2009

gardenwoodsfogWPAutumn has decidedly arrived. Wild windy storms brought rain, hail, mist and fog this past week; the green trees have begun to don their fall coats while their leaves are drifting into the garden paths and beds. The cool damp weather has intensified the colors of the garden and triggered new blossoms from many of the plants. A fuchsia rose here, a peach salvia there – scent and color hang heavy in the air. Yesterday morning, a thick fog turned pearly with the morning light and the world was wrapped in a glowing cloud. Slightly disheveled at the end of the growing season, the garden was nevertheless graced for a moment with endless colors. (Click on any photo in the montage to see a bigger image; All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

I saw old Autumn in the misty morn stand shadowless like silence, listening to silence. ~Thomas Hood, English poet

Outside the Gate

I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate. ~Pinero

Outside the gateThe first thing visitors encounter when they come to my garden is the open space outside of the garden gate where the wild things roam – deer, rabbits, groundhogs, raccoons, and wild turkeys. The gardens have to withstand creature browsing of all kinds, so sturdy shrubs, trees, ornamental grasses and various herbs and native plants dominate the plantings. A terra cotta birdbath anchors the beds of herbs and native plants and the fences are lined with tall shrubs and trees that shelter and protect the garden behind the gate. This year, a self-sown woodland tobacco plant (Nicotiana sylvestris) makes a tall bold statement.

"Zelda" A narrow path along the north side of the house leads to “Zelda”, a face planter with golden Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) for hair, and then to a patio that used to be a fenced dog pen. This is a favorite summer dining and lounging spot, shaded by tall oaks and cooled by a steady breeze from the north.

Opening the gate draws visitors into the lush gardens within; the arbor surrounding it stands as a defining symbol for the liminal space between the outside and inside gardens. Part Two of Opening the Gate, here are a few images of the “outside” gardens as they appeared to my visitors a few weeks ago. (Click on any photo to see a larger image. All photos ©2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

If you only knock loud enough and long enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.  ~Longfellow

Opening the Gate

Still round the corner there may wait
a new road or a secret gate.  ~Tolkein

gatefromdeckWPLast weekend, I opened my garden gate to a class from The Phipps, who came to see what a garden might look like in September. The weather was perfect, with mild temperatures, blue skies, and a soft breeze. Poodle pup Angel Eyes was a friendly greeter and my husband played guitar on the deck so that there was live music in the garden.

I love my garden every day and month of the year, and September is usually a lush and colorful display of flowers and foliage, so I readily agreed to open the gates to visitors close to the autumn equinox. Little did I know that, when I agreed to do this, the lower garden reconstruction would take place in late June instead of April and the wooden deck refinishing would be delayed until July. If you’ve lived through a home construction project, perhaps you understand the chaos and domino effect that even a small project creates. Nevertheless, I undertook additional tasks in the garden to make it visitor ready by September and though I was still tweaking things the morning of the tour, it made a good impression.

Still, when preparing for garden visitors, the gardener only sees what they haven’t done – our imagination sees what project we left unfinished, what flowers aren’t in bloom, what weeds we forgot to pull, instead of what is actually there. Fortunately, garden visitors only sees what is before them, unburdened by expectations, and hopefully will enjoy the experience. I took no photos of the garden until the next morning, when I could look at it with fresh eyes and let the camera tell the tale. There are so many photos that I’ll limit them to the lower garden this time, and show the remainder in my next post. I hope you enjoy your virtual trip through the September garden! (Click any photo to view a full size image; all photos @2014 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved)

 

I could happily lean on a gate all the livelong day, chatting to passers-by about the wind and the rain. I do a lot of gate-leaning while I am supposed to be gardening; instead of hoeing, I lean on the gate, stare at the vegetable beds and ponder. ~ Tom Hodgkinson (British author)

See (and listen to)  last year’s take on September in the garden at September Song, a song that runs through my head at this time of the year.